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Blending the art of low stress stockmanship with the science of planned biological grazing

The the livestock end of  the 2lazy4U Livestock & Literary Co.


Follow Grazing Plans By Implementing Herd Behavior

The other concern people have in changing to any intensive grazing program is the cost to build and maintain all of the extra fencing "needed" to carry concentrate and control the cattle. By using low stress cattle handling methods, one can actually implement these grazing plans without the use of additional fencing.

We assume that it is natural for cattle to scatter out across a pasture. Let us ask ourselves a simple question; if cattle are a herd animal, then why do they scatter out to graze? This is a question I asked as a child, and was never satisfied with the "Thats just what cattle do" answer. Over the years I noticed how cattle seemed to change behavior after being moved. One morning, after making a move with 1,500 cow calf pairs, we found all of them, not only in the same spot in the psture, but all facing in the same direction to graze. The cattle stayed together like this for three days. On the evening of the third day, a couple of people got to charging around through them and stressed them out. The next morning they were scattered out across the whole pasture. Building on that accidental move I eventually discovered what was needed to intentionally cause this behavior.

Rather than building and maintaining untold miles of electric fence, this behavior allows you to locate the cattle on water, then send them on a little different grazing path for the day. The cattle will graze as close together, or as far apart as feed dictates. When feed is dense enough, the cattle will graze so close together they may be touching. When feed is sparse, the cattle may spread out a hundred yards apart, but they will all be grazing in the same direction, and returning to water as a herd. The daily grazing moves are made by simply starting the herd up for a short distance and placing them on a grazing path. No electric fence to buy, build, or maintain. There is no chance of underestimating the feed in small paddocks so animal performance is not negativily impacted. In cases where feed is dense enough they don't reach the end of the path, they will return and resume grazing on their own the next day.

In addition to simplifying the daily moves, there are other benefits. As all of the cattle are in one herd, putting out salt or mineral supplements and checking waterlines is reduced to a single location. Other than perhaps occasionally freshening up other waterpoints, there is no need to drive hundreds, or even thousands of miles a month checking and maintaining the water system (Not to mention that fewer waterpoints results in fewer packs of coyotes.)

The following video shows the basics of allowing cattle to act as a herd. The process is actually fairly simple and can usually be accomplished in five days.

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